Business Travel Advisory
Tomorrow, travelers should exercise caution and avoid all gatherings called by Juan Guaido, the National Assembly-recognized interim President. In Caracas, Guaido supporters will gather at the National Assembly building. In response, followers of President Nicolas Maduro have called for a “Peace March” that is expected to conclude at the National Assembly. Smaller protests throughout the country are likely outside government buildings, in main squares, and along roads in urban centers. The presence of opposing groups may provoke clashes; security forces may forcibly disperse protests, posing incidental risks to bystanders.
Travelers should avoid all demonstrations linked to a nationwide teachers’ strike on January 16 due to the risk of unrest. Teachers are demanding better wages and pensions, as well as education reforms. In Caracas, protesters will gather in front of the Ministry of Education. Related demonstrations are expected in other urban centers, where protest flashpoints include government buildings. Roadblocks may also be erected on key routes.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
On Thursday, January 16, the opposition Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) has planned protests calling for the return of exiled former President Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh has been living in Equatorial Guinea since January 2017 following his defeat in the December 2016 Presidential Elections. If the rallies are authorized by authorities, counter-protests by human rights activists are likely. Travelers in urban centers, particularly Banjul, should monitor related gatherings, which may cause local disruption.
Today, travelers in Conakry should minimize movement amid ongoing protests. Security forces have used live ammunition to disperse protesters in the Petit Simbaya area and have erected checkpoints leading into the downtown area. Additionally, traffic is stopped on the Route le Prince due to protests.
Beginning today, travelers should avoid nationwide rallies planned by the Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) opposition group due to the risk of unrest. The FNDC has called for a walkout by public and private sector workers to bring the country to a standstill. Daily demonstrations will begin today against President Alpha Conde’s efforts to seek re-election. While specific protest times and locations have not yet been released, gatherings are likely to focus on Conakry, Mamou, and Labe. Security forces may disperse protests with tear gas and live ammunition, posing incidental risks to bystanders.
All travel to Baghdad should be deferred through Wednesday, January 15, while essential travel to southern provinces may be possible with precautions. The immediate threat of further escalation between the US and Iran has reduced following the limited US response to Iran’s January 8 missile attack on locations hosting US forces; however, low-level attacks by pro-Iran groups in Iraq are possible and will continue to fuel broader US-Iran tensions. Such incidents are most likely in central, northern, and western Iraq, where there is a greater concentration of both countries’ military and diplomatic interests.
Today, at least 20 armed suspected al-Shabab militants killed three teachers at the Kamuthe Resource Centre in Garissa County. The militants also attacked a communication mast and a police station in the area; however, security forces managed to intervene.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption due to ongoing heavy rainfall and local flash flooding. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the adverse weather is expected to persist until Wednesday, January 15, particularly over southwestern, central, eastern, and coastal regions. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes prior to undertaking all overland journeys.
Today and tomorrow, disruption to public services will continue during three days of mourning for the Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, who died on January 10. Authorities have announced that all government institutes, including banks, will be closed today. Travelers should account for this disruption and reconfirm all appointments during this period.
Yesterday, the Government of National Accord (GNA) announced the reopening of Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport (MJI), which had been closed since January 8. This came after the Libyan National Army (LNA) declared a ceasefire with the GNA, effective yesterday. Further disruption to flights at Mitiga Airport is possible. Misrata Airport (MST) remains open, but travelers should remain abreast of the status of both facilities.
Beginning today, travelers in Malawi should anticipate possible disruption to road travel and the distribution of essential supplies during a planned nationwide strike by local haulage companies. The Transporters Association of Malawi has called the industrial action to demand more business for local operators and higher fees to cover increased pay for drivers. A truckers’ strike in October 2019 that led to the introduction of a minimum wage for drivers, halted fuel deliveries and caused disruption on roads connecting Lilongwe to other urban centers. Security forces were deployed to force drivers to complete fuel deliveries.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
From January 17-19, travelers in Dhaka should expect disruption and heightened security during Bishwa Ijtema, an annual gathering of Muslims. More than three million people are expected to attend the event, which is the second-largest congregation of Muslims worldwide. Heightened security measures will be in force, including the deployment of security force personnel and the implementation of road closures and access restrictions.
From January 18-26, passengers transiting New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) should expect disruption and reconfirm flight schedules during the temporary closure of the city’s airspace. Landings and take-offs will not be permitted from 10:35 AM to 12:15 PM local time on January 18, 20-24, and 26 as part of preparations for Republic Day on January 26. Flights scheduled within 30 minutes of this window may be affected.
Australian health authorities have issued a warning following the detection of several cases of Legionnaires’ disease in travelers who had returned from Bali. All travelers had stayed in the same area in central Kuta. People become infected with Legionella when they inhale droplets and mist that come from contaminated bodies of water. The disease does not spread from person to person. A majority of people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. Those who do fall sick may have a fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Travelers should consider avoiding water sources that are commonly associated with outbreaks, such as fountains and hot tubs.
Travelers should anticipate intermittent disruption during the ongoing winter season, which will last through February. Periodic dense fog and consequent poor visibility may disrupt flights at major airports, including Islamabad (ISB) and Lahore’s Allama Iqbal (LHE) international airports. Authorities may also close sections of major motorways, including the M2, which connects Lahore to Islamabad. Today, the Quetta Ziarat National Highway and the Quetta-Karachi Motorway were closed following a Declaration of Emergency in seven districts of Balochistan province due to heavy snowfall. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes and transportation before setting out.
Travelers in the Calabarzon region and Metro Manila should continue to maintain flexible itineraries and anticipate disruption caused by increased activity from the Taal Volcano. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) and Clark International Airport (CRK) have resumed partial operations. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has reported that the eruption is ongoing as of 10:00 AM local time today, maintaining the volcano’s alert level at Level 4 (second-highest on a five-tier scale). Authorities continue to urge the evacuation of areas within a nine-mile radius of the volcano’s crater.
Taal Volcano in Batangas province has erupted, releasing thick ash. There is potential for additional eruptions. Volcanic ash is best avoided where possible. Exposure to ash can cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Most people only experience temporary symptoms; however, the effects may be more pronounced in people with underlying health conditions, particularly respiratory problems such as bronchitis, emphysema or asthma.
Travelers should expect gatherings and associated disruption following the release of the results of the January 11 Presidential and Legislative Elections. Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured more than 57% of the votes. While related events are expected to be peaceful and take place amid heightened security, minor scuffles between rival supporters are possible.
Travelers in the UK and European Union (EU) should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” The EU has agreed on a flexible extension date of January 31, 2020. Local gatherings relating to Brexit may take place in the UK, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
Travelers should continue to factor significant transportation disruption into their journeys as nationwide strikes over planned pension reforms persist. The Transilien, Intercites, TER and TGV rail networks are among those affected, with significantly reduced services. While the overall level of disruption has decreased, strikes continue to cause disruption. Related well-attended demonstrations have occurred nationwide since December 5, with the next gatherings planned for January 14-16.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to avoid protests by the “Yellow Vests” movement, which usually take place on Saturdays, due to a credible risk for unrest. Protests on January 11 resulted in clashes between participants and police, who used tear gas to disperse crowds in Paris, Nantes, and Toulouse. The next protest is due to take place on January 18, though no details have yet been released. Yellow Vests protesters have joined demonstrations against pension reforms over the past weeks.
Today, travelers in Tbilisi should plan journeys bypassing the City Court on Davit Agmashenebeli Alley beginning at 3:00 PM local time. Civil society activists intend to gather outside the building during the trial of a fellow activist, whom they claim was illegally detained during a rally on December 31. The movement has been demanding the government convert to a proportional election system for the 2020 Parliamentary Elections, among other issues. Related demonstrations have recently been forcibly dispersed by authorities.
Today and tomorrow, travelers should anticipate disruption due to high winds and heavy rain during the passage of Storm Brendan. The Met Eireann meteorological service warned of several hours of very dangerous weather today. Orange Wind Warnings (second-highest on a three-tier scale) have been issued for Connacht and Leinster provinces, as well as for the counties of Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford. A Red Gale Warning (highest on the scale) is also in place for all Irish coastal waters.
An increase in mumps cases has been reported nationwide. The number of cases reported this year has been significantly higher than those reported last year. Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads from person-to-person via infected droplets. It is highly contagious, and nearly all cases occur among unvaccinated people. Symptoms include fever, painful and swollen glands, pain on swallowing, and inflammation of the testes in men. Serious complications can occur. All travelers should ensure they are fully vaccinated against mumps.
Today through January 25, travelers should anticipate disruption during strikes by several transportation unions. Air traffic controllers will observe a four-hour nationwide strike from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM local time tomorrow; additional walkouts are planned by other aviation workers. Airports most likely to be affected are Rome Fiumicino (FCO), Rome Ciampino (CIA), Bologna Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ), Reggio Calabria (REG), Ancona (AOI), Perugia (PEG), and Pescara Abruzzo (PSR). Today, traffic disruption is likely in Rome during a public transportation strike.
Today, a fire erupted near Centraal Railway Station in Amsterdam. The blaze, believed to be due to a gas leak, was reported to be on Prins Hendrikkade near the Victoria Hotel and Art’otel. Tram services in the area have been rerouted. Travelers should follow all official directives and avoid the vicinity.
Travelers should anticipate and avoid further protests linked to Parliamentary discussions over a controversial land reform bill. Today, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers is set to hold a public discussion of the bill after having accepted nine amendments out of more than 4,000 that had been submitted. Tomorrow, the final draft of the bill will be discussed in Parliament. The head of the Agrarian Union of Ukraine, Novikov Gennadiy, has rejected the amended version of the bill and vowed an intensification of protests.